What is T nonimmigrant status?
T nonimmigrant status, commonly known as a T visa, is a type of temporary immigration status available to victims of human trafficking who are present in the U.S.
The T visa allows victims of severe forms of trafficking to remain in the country for a specified period and encourage their cooperation with law enforcement efforts.
Key features of T nonimmigrant status include:
- Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible for a T visa, an individual must be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). This includes situations involving forced labor, sex trafficking, and involuntary servitude.
- Law Enforcement Cooperation: T visa applicants are required to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases. This cooperation may involve providing information, testimony, or other assistance.
- Application Filing: The individual must submit a Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS.
- Derivative Benefits: Certain family members of T visa recipients may also be eligible for derivative T nonimmigrant status, allowing them to accompany or join the principal T visa holder in the U.S.
- Duration of Stay: Initially, T visas are granted for up to four years. However, T visa recipients may be eligible to apply for permanent residency (green card) after three years of continuous presence in T status.
- Employment Authorization: If approved, T visa holders may be eligible for certain benefits, including work authorization
- Permanent Residence: T visa holder may eventually apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) by filing Form I-485
Who is eligible to apply for T nonimmigrant status?
To be eligible for T nonimmigrant status (T visa), an individual must meet the following requirements:
- Victim of a Severe Form of Trafficking: The individual must be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons. This includes forced labor, sex trafficking, and involuntary servitude.
- Physical Presence in the U.S.: The applicant must be physically present in the U.S., American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking.
- Compliance with Law Enforcement: T visa applicants must be willing to comply with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, unless they are under 18 years of age or unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma.
- Extreme Hardship: T visa applicants must demonstrate that they would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if they are removed from the U.S.
- Admissibility: The applicant must be admissible to the U.S. or eligible for a waiver of any grounds of inadmissibility.
Are family members eligible to apply for T nonimmigrant status?
Yes, certain family members of the human trafficking victim are eligible to apply for T nonimmigrant status.
If the victim’s family members are in present danger of retaliation as a result of victim’s escape from trafficking or cooperation with law enforcement, the following family members can apply for T status:
- Victim’s parents
- Victim’s unmarried siblings under 18 years of age
- The children of any age or marital status of the victim’s qualifying family members who have been granted derivative T nonimmigrant status
If the victim’s family members are not in present danger of retaliation, the following family members can apply for T status:
Family members eligible to apply for T status
|Under 21 years of age
|21 years or older
How to apply for T nonimmigrant status?
To apply for T nonimmigrant status (T visa), individuals must take the following steps:
Step 1. Complete Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status:
- Obtain the latest edition of Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, from the USCIS website.
- USCIS will reject any outdated editions of Form I-914
- Fill out the form accurately and completely. Sign and date the form in ink
- USCIS does not accept computer-generated or stamped signatures
- Fill out and submit Form G-1145 to receive an electronic notification containing USCIS receipt number by text message or email
Step 2. Gather Supporting Documentation:
- Collect all the necessary supporting documents (see the checklist below)
- Unless directed otherwise, submit only photocopies of the documents
Step 3. Obtain Law Enforcement Certification:
- Collect evidence demonstrating that you have complied with the request for assistance from law enforcement, or that you qualify for an exception or exemption due to physical or psychological trauma
- You can either:
- Submit Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons, or
- Submit evidence of your compliance with law enforcement (examples of acceptable documentation: records of your communication with law enforcement, trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, news articles, affidavits, or other relevant credible evidence)
Step 4. Complete Form I-914 for eligible family members (if applicable):
- If you have eligible family members, you can include them on Form I-914, Supplement A, Application for Family Member of T-1 Recipient
- See the list of eligible family members above
- Your family members can apply for T derivative status together with you, or after your T status is approved
Step 5. Submit the Application:
- Mail the completed Form I-914, along with all supporting documentation and the law enforcement certification to USCIS
- Check the correct filing address on the USCIS website (“Where to File”)
- It’s recommended to mail the application via express mail with a tracking number
- Make a copy of the completed application for your records
Step 6. Check Application Status:
- USCIS will mail the receipt notice 2-3 weeks after the submission date
- You can track the status of your application online by entering the receipt number
Step 7. Attend Biometrics Appointment:
- Once USCIS receives the application, the applicant may be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photograph and signature
- Attending the biometrics appointment is mandatory. Failure to attend the appointment might result in denial of your application
Step 8. Wait for USCIS Processing:
- USCIS will review the application and make a decision. If additional information is required, they may request it by issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE)
- If approved, the applicant will receive a Notice of Approval and be granted T nonimmigrant status.
- If denied, USCIS will provide reasons for the denial, and the applicant may have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
How much does it cost to apply for T nonimmigrant status?
There is no fee to apply for T nonimmigrant status.
However, you can request a fee waiver for other forms you are filing with your T application:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
What documents are required to apply for T nonimmigrant status?
The following documents must be submitted with your Form I-914 application (submit photocopies only):
Examples of acceptable documents
|Completed and signed Form I-914
|If applying for a family member
|G-1145 form (optional)
|Proof of entry into the U.S.
|Evidence of Trafficking Victim Status
|Law Enforcement Certification
How long does the T nonimmigrant status last?
T nonimmigrant status is initially granted for a period of up to four years.
This period allows victims of human trafficking to remain in the U.S. temporarily and assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.
After being granted T nonimmigrant status, individuals may apply for extensions by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
T visa holders may also be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a green card) after three years of continuous presence in T nonimmigrant status.
What are the benefits of T nonimmigrant status?
T nonimmigrant status provides several benefits to victims of human trafficking who are present in the U.S.:
- Legal Presence in the U.S.: T visa holders are granted temporary legal status in the U.S., allowing them to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
- Employment Authorization: T visa holders are eligible to work in the U.S. Once their Form I-914 is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- Benefits for Family Members: Certain family members of T visa holders may be eligible for derivative T nonimmigrant status. This includes spouses, children (unmarried and under 21 years old), and, in some cases, parents and siblings of a victim who is under 21 years old.
- Access to Public Benefits and Services: T visa holders may be eligible for certain public benefits and services
- Potential for Lawful Permanent Residency: After maintaining T nonimmigrant status for three years and meeting other criteria, individuals may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card). This provides permanent legal status in the United States.
- Family Reunification: T visa holders who obtain lawful permanent resident status may be able to petition for certain qualifying family members to join them in the U.S.
How to apply for employment authorization as a T nonimmigrant?
T principal nonimmigrants are not required to separately file Form I-765 to apply for employment authorization.
If the principal’s T nonimmigrant status is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which serves as proof of employment authorization and can be used to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).
However, family members of T nonimmigrant applicants who are physically present in the US must file a separate Form I-765 with USCIS to apply for employment authorization.
Learn more: Form I-765 Instructions, How to Fill Out
How long does it take for T nonimmigrant status to be approved?
It can take about 17 months to process Form I-914 applications.
To check the most current processing times for Form I-914:
- Visit the USCIS website at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times
- Select “Form I-914”
Keep in mind that processing times are general estimates, and individual cases may take less or more time to complete.
Additionally, USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) during the processing of your application, which can add to the overall processing time.
It’s crucial to respond promptly and thoroughly if you receive an RFE to avoid delays.
If your case is outside the normal processing time, you place an Outside Normal Processing Time e-Request or request assistance from your local congressman’s office.